June 2006 Update:
The Casa has undergone a complete refurbishment and has reopened. I am pleased to say that the new incarnation has restored the Casa Bonita legacy. It is once again safe to dine here! Please visit my recommended Tulsa Restaurants page for the complete new review!
October 2005 Update:
I placed my original review (below) of Casa Bonita on VT in June 2004. In September 2005, the Casa opened its last can of refried beans, microwaved its last block of facsimile cheese, and closed its soiled doors for good (claiming that it was unable to reach a suitable new lease with its landlord). Coincidence - or evidence of the awesome power of a Virtual Tourist Review? I choose to believe the second, and hereby take credit for single-handedly saving all people visiting Tulsa from a horrible dining fate!
Please do not succumb to any suggestion that you visit the huge Casa Bonita restaurant at 21st & Sheridan. 25 years past its prime, this grand-daddy of "theme restaurants" will only disappoint. In its day (back in the '70's) Casa Bonita offered a pretty unique place to dine - an entire disneyfied Mexican village replete with palm trees, courtyards, hidden caves, waterfalls, and mariachi's strolling under a faux night sky. The food was never any good, but at least the place was cool, in a kitschy kind of way. When last I visited (in 2003) out of a misplaced sense of nostalgia, even the setting had become as unappealing as the microwave entrees. There was a pervasive dinginess - and not one that gave it a more authentic Mexican atmosphere - and a smell that suggested the whole place should be shut down and given a thorough cleaning. Sadly, what may have once been a "Beautiful House" is now, well - just awful.
the old casa bonita restaurant reopened a few months ago as casa viva, they'd been advertising heavily on tv and i figured why not? my kids had never been there so i wanted to treat them. The atmosphere was promising at first until i started sweating from the heat. The portions were tiny and i had spent $30 for 4 which was kinda cheap but i didn't get what i paid for. the food had already started getting cold by the time it got to me and it was nasty. I stomached 2 enchilladas and a bite of under cooked crunchy spanish rice and the soda was flat. We raised the flag at the table and the waiter walked past us 3 times before he even noticed. I went outside to smoke and when i came back in the waiter kept puppydoggin me about why i was pissed. I got my kids and started to leave when the manager came up to me asking me why i told people coming in to eat not to waste their money. So i told him i wasn't happy and would never eat there again so he offered my money back and i refused it, and said maybe it would help bring in mexicans in to cook the mexican food instead of the all black crew that was running it. It sucked ass and no one should ever eat there
Unique Suggestions: stay off 71st during midday and eat chinese at least they have chinese people cooking chinese food
Fun Alternatives: go to bass proo in broken arrow
I used to love Casa Bonita because of the indoor waterfall and fun atmosphere. When it became Casa Viva, I thought I would give it a shot. That was the worst dining experience of my life!! When you walk in you immediately have to order and pay before even being seated...? Then you walk up to a dark counter and wait for someone to shove your tray out to you. Then you take it and seat yourself. The one person that you paid at the front is the last sign of human contact between you and anyone that works there. Someone came and filled my water glass and never again returned to refill it. The people are rude and pushy and the food is a complete and utter disaster that should never be consumed. PLEASE do not visit this restaurant.
When traveling by car through some of the smaller towns around Tulsa, OBEY THE SPEED LIMITS!!! More than a few of us 'city-folk' have been caught in these speed traps. There is no doubting how the municipal government paid for that shiny new police car!